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Workers stand firm on Auckland picket line

Wednesday 8 September 2004

Maritime workers stand firm on Auckland picket line

The Port of Auckland's container services remain paralyzed as striking maritime workers maintain their vigil with a round the clock picket outside the port.

Maritime Union Local 13 Auckland Waterfront Branch President Denis Carlisle says the picket started at 7am this morning as soon as the strike began.

He says that around eighty workers were picketing the Axis Bledisloe gate and around forty picketing the Axis Ferguson gate at the Port this morning.

Mr Carlisle says workers were shocked and angry this morning after a truck driver from a local firm drove aggressively at the picket line, narrowly missing picketers and a news journalist in a wheelchair.

"Police went and got the driver who has apologized, luckily this was an isolated incident and the majority of drivers we have spoken to have understood the issue and been supportive."

He says the Maritime Union has received an enormous amount of support from around New Zealand and the world for its stance fighting for secure, permanent jobs.

"We have received the support of the Council of Trade Unions, other unions, political groups and individuals around New Zealand, and maritime and transport unionists from around the world have offered their support including the Maritime Union of Australia and the International Transport Workers Federation in London."

Mr Carlisle rejected claims by the Ports of Auckland that only a small number of workers were casual.

"The fact is a very high number of our members on the ground are casual, insecure workers ­ especially compared to the well rewarded senior management level of Ports of Auckland."

He says the flexibility arguments used by Ports of Auckland were a cover for corporate greed.

Mr Carlisle says the Union has an open door policy to negotiations and is happy to meet with the employer at any time, although the Ports of Auckland had shown reluctance to do so.

ENDS


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